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Fake IDs can be real trouble

Instead of letting teens into bars, fake IDs might land them behind bars

Instead of letting teens into bars, fake IDs might land them behind bars

August 31, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

That fake ID could cost you a lot more than you paid for it.

People caught in possession of false identification - primarily a fraudulent driver's license - face the possibility of hefty fines, jail time and points on their real driver's license. And drivers younger than 21 convicted of consuming alcohol will lose their license, said Joseph Michael, deputy state's attorney in Washington County.

"If they drive with alcohol on their breath, they're going to lose their license - even if they're not intoxicated," Michael said.

Forget the Breathalyzer and the field sobriety tests. Just the smell of alcohol on a teen driver's breath will likely secure a conviction, "and it does every day in Washington County," Michael said. "The police are quite experienced in this. The courts will believe them and do believe them. ... Whether they have a fake ID or not, the police are on the lookout for underage drinkers."

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Prosecutors don't hesitate to pursue convictions for minors in possession of alcohol, Michael said.

Under Maryland civil law, minors convicted of possessing alcohol can be fined up to $500 for the first offense. The following criminal violations also are treated as civil offenses, each punishable with fines up to $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for subsequent offenses, plus court costs:

· misrepresentation of age

· underage possession

· false documentation

· obtaining for underage consumption

· furnishing for or allowing underage consumption

People who fail to pay their fine can be ordered to serve as many as 10 days in jail. Individuals younger than 18 also will be referred to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, and people ages 18 and older will be referred to district court. The court will advise the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration of the violation if it involved a fake driver's license, according to Maryland law.

Individuals cited for any of the above criminal violations must provide proof of age; those who fail to do so face a fine of up to $50 and a criminal conviction, Michael said.

Individuals convicted of breaking the following Maryland transportation laws can be jailed for 60 days, fined up to $500 and issued driver's license points for each violation:

· fraudulently attempting to obtain a driver's license by such means as using a false name, another person's identification or altered documents

· possession of fraudulent license

· displaying the fake license

Adults who intentionally loan their driver's license to a minor face the same sanctions, Michael said. Under Maryland fraud law, a person convicted of selling or offering to sell an identification card with an incorrect age or date of birth could be fined up to $2,000 and imprisoned for two years for each offense.

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